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#17 Villanova vs. Penn Preview

The Wildcats can make it seven wins in a row and outright win this season’s Big 5 (again)

NCAA Basketball: St. Joseph at Villanova Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or stream

When and Where: Tuesday, December 12 at the Palestra

Time: 7:00 pm ET

Watch: ESPN 2

Stream: WatchESPN

Odds: Villanova is favored by 7.5

All-Time: Villanova and Penn have played each other a grand total of 64 times with the first meeting between both programs taking place in February of 1956. Villanova won that game by a score of 89 to 74 and in the following 63 games that took between then and now, the Wildcats have bested the Quakers 48 times to a mere 16 losses. One might say they have left the Quakers quaking...anyway the last time Penn beat Villanova was in 2002 since then Villanova has won 15 straight against Penn.

At the moment, Villanova are riding a six game winning streak with the latest victory coming over the weekend against St. Joseph’s. They have moved up the rankings as well with the Wildcats now ranked 17th in the nation.

Now the Wildcats turn their attention to a Tuesday night meeting at The Palestra with the Quakers of Pennsylvania to close out their stretch of Big 5 games for the 2018-19 season. If Villanova wins this game it will mean an outright Big 5 win, and will keep their 26 game Big 5 win streak alive.

However they will be coming up against a Penn team that has been all around solid this season. The Quakers will be coming into this one with a record of 8-2 and a four game win streak. Their only losses this season have come against Kansas State and Oregon State. Head coach Steve Donahue now in his fourth season with Penn has his squad humming along quite nicely. They managed to move on quite well from an early season worry of the loss of Ryan Betley to a ruptured Patella Tendon in their first game this season. Betley was the leading scorer the past two seasons for the Quakers, in his place Bryce Washington has stepped in nicely shooting 46.7% from three so far this season but has had his struggles with turnovers. The loss of Betley has also meant a shorter rotation from the bench for the Quakers.

In place, the main scoring threat from Penn is from freshman Michael Wang is leading the team in field goal percentage at a rate of 57.4% and junior Devon Goodman who leads Penn in points per game with an average of 15.1 ppg this season.

As a team, they have been averaging 76.3 points per game this season and allowing 67.2 per game which is not that far off from Villanova’s marks of 75.0 ppg scored and 64.8 ppg allowed.

Their production is definitely from the hands of hot shooters especially from beyond the arc with 39.2% coming from the three point range and 55.8% from two point range to round out their shooting.

In all, they could present in interesting challenge to the Wildcats, but what of Villanova?

As mentioned from up above, Villanova are riding a six game win streak into this game. They have seem to come into their own since that loss to Furman earlier in the season with solid wins against Oklahoma State and Florida State in the games after that loss and in their last three game have run riot over the Big 5 in Philadelphia, though things did get interesting against LaSalle for a while. They have figured things out and made some tweaks along the way such as going small and rotating in Jermaine Samuels into the four position all while allowing Eric Paschall to working in and out.

This game will be Villanova’s final tune up as well before they make the weekend trip out to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks. The result from this game against Penn could weigh heavy on what they do over the weekend. Penn does present a tasty option for the upset but that will left to be seen on the court.